RLS is the synonym for Restless Legs Syndrome which is primarily a neurological disorder as opposed to varicose veins that signal towards a vascular disease.

Although these are two entirely different medical conditions, varicose veins and RLS are often confused and also linked with each other. In this blog, let us understand how are these two related to each other. Stay with us till the end.

What is RLS?

RLS, also known as Willis-Ekbom disease causes discomfort in the form of unpleasant sensations in the legs. Patients with RLS experience an uncontrollable urge to move their legs especially in the evening and at night.

Patients do get relief by moving their legs. The urge to move the legs is known to get intense when the patient is trying to relax or sleep. Thus, one of the major concerns with RLS is its interference with sleep and everyday activities as patients usually witness sleepiness in the daytime along with fatigue.

RLS can happen to anyone at any age and the symptoms generally get worse with the growing age. RLS and sleep deprivation can lead to several other health problems including depression if treatment for RLS is delayed. Simple lifestyle modifications and self-care steps can help ease the symptoms but medications do become necessary for most patients.

Why are varicose veins being linked to RLS?

Painful itching and throbbing in the legs especially at the night time are two of the many other common symptoms of RLS and varicose veins. Also, it is known that both RLS and varicose veins patients experience relief from their symptoms on moving their legs.

These surprising similarities in the accompanying characteristics and actions that cause relief in symptoms of both these disorders have made the medical researchers keen on investigating if and how these two medical conditions are related to one another.

Could Varicose Veins Be Causing Your RLS?

RLS development has been linked with other health problems such as iron deficiency, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and kidney disorders. It is also known that certain medications for a few diseases namely hypertension, allergies, heart ailments, and even depression contribute to be a major source of RLS.

Although it is known that RLS can be caused by a number of other health conditions, numerous medical studies and reports from recent research have also concluded that varicose veins can be the underlying cause of RLS in a few patients.

The swollen and enlarged varicose veins fail to send blood back to the heart and result in blood pooling accompanied by a feeling of heaviness in the legs. The extreme pressure in the veins makes them protrude out from the skin surface and appear all along the legs and feet.

The medical study conducted in 1995 and published in the Dermatological Surgery stated that out of 1300 patients with RLS and vascular disorder, as many as 113 were treated through the sclerotherapy procedure, a common treatment process for varicose veins where the sclerosant, a substance is injected into the damaged veins to permanently close them off.

It was reported that a whopping 98% of the patients confirmed having experienced immediate relief from RLS symptoms after undergoing sclerotherapy. Not only this, but the recurrence rate of RLS symptoms was also very low for these patients. Roughly 8% had RLS symptoms within the first year and approximately 28% in the second year after the sclerotherapy procedure.

The results from the 1995 study were reinforced by the findings of the medical study conducted in 2007 that we reported in Phlebology : The Journal of Venous Disease. Of the total 174 patients, 63 tested positive for RLS of which 62 were also diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency.

Researchers have reconfirmed that RLS and varicose veins are overlapping medical disorders. They have also concluded that patients with RLS must first be examined for varicose veins and subsequently be treated for it instead of being prescribed medications for RLS.


If you have RLS, at-home remedies such as massaging your legs, walking, and stretching before going to bed are sure to help ease the symptoms. These are great relaxation techniques that also relieve symptoms of varicose veins as well.

Soaking your legs in warm and cold water will also help you feel relaxed and make your night time more restful. You must limit your caffeine and alcohol intake and eat nutritious meals at regular intervals to feel better.

If RLS is bothering you and you are yet to find out the root cause of it, it is best to see a vein specialist and get yourself medically examined for the presence of varicose veins or other venous disorders. You must know that not all varicose veins are visible. Hence, you may have no visible or protruding veins on the skin surface but still, be suffering from varicose veins.

It is best to let the vascular expert check for deep-lying damaged veins that may be making RLS even more troublesome for you. Diagnosis of the varicose vein can help in timely treatment and prevent RLS from progressing further.

Dr. Rajah V Koppala is an internationally qualified and highly experienced vascular surgeon. He specializes in the painless and minimally invasive laser treatment of varicose veins. Performed as an outpatient treatment, the laser ablation process has zero downtime and the patients can go back home on the same day.

Avis Vascular Centre offers free duplex ultrasound scans and quick friendly Mediclaim assistance to all patients along with special aid for travel and accommodation reservations of non-local patients. Call us to schedule your consultation visit today!

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